26. Personality, an Obstacle
Questioner: As I can see, the world is a school of Yoga and life itself is Yoga practice. Everybody strives for perfection and what is Yoga but striving. There is nothing contemptible about the so-called ‘common’ people and their ‘common’ lives. They strive as hard and suffer as much as the Yogi, only they are not conscious of their true purpose.
Maharaj: In what way are your common people — Yogis?
Q: Their ultimate goal is the same. What the Yogi secures by renunciation (tyaga) the common man realises through experience (bhoga). The way of Bhoga is unconscious and, therefore, repetitive and protracted, while the way of Yoga is deliberate and intense and, therefore, can be more rapid.
M: Maybe the periods of Yoga and Bhoga alternate. First Bhogi, then Yogi, then again Bhogi, then again Yogi.
Q: What may be the purpose?
M: Weak desires can be removed by introspection and meditation, but strong, deep-rooted ones must be fulfilled and their fruits, sweet or bitter, tasted.
Q: Why then should we pay tribute to Yogis and speak slightingly of Bhogis? All are Yogis, in a way.
M: On the human scale of values deliberate effort is considered praiseworthy. In reality both the Yogi and Bhogi follow their own nature, according to circumstances and opportunities. The Yogi’s life is governed by a single desire — to find the Truth; the Bhogi serves many masters. But the Bhogi becomes a Yogi and the Yogi may get a rounding up in a bout of Bhoga. The final result is the same.
Q: Buddha is reported to have said that it is tremendously important to have heard that there is enlightenment, a complete reversal and transformation in consciousness. The good news is compared to a spark in a shipload of cotton; slowly but relentlessly the whole of it will turn to ashes. Similarly the good news of enlightenment will, sooner or later, bring about a transformation.
M: Yes, first hearing (shravana), then remembering (smarana), pondering (manana) and so on. We are on familiar ground. The man who heard the news becomes a Yogi; while the rest continue in their Bhoga.
Q: But you agree that living a life — just living the humdrum life of the world, being born to die and dying to be born — advances man by its sheer volume, just like the river finds its way to the sea by the sheer mass of the water it gathers.
M: Before the world was, consciousness was. In consciousness it comes into being, in consciousness it lasts and into pure consciousness it dissolves. At the root of everything, is the feeling ‘I am’. The state of mind: ‘there is a world’ is secondary, for to be, I do not need the world, the world needs me.
Q: The desire to live is a tremendous thing.
M: Still greater is the freedom from the urge to live.
Q: The freedom of the stone?
M: Yes, the freedom of the stone, and much more besides. Freedom unlimited and conscious.
Q: Is not personality required for gathering experience?
M: As you are now, the personality is only an obstacle. Self-identification with the body may be good for an infant, but true growing up depends on getting the body out of the way. Normally, one should outgrow body-based desires early in life. Even the Bhogi, who does not refuse enjoyments, need not hanker after the ones he has tasted. Habit, desire for repetition frustrates both the Yogi and the Bhogi.
Q: Why do you keep on dismissing the person (vyakti) as of no importance? Personality is the primary fact of our existence. It occupies the entire stage.
M: As long as you do not see that it is mere habit, built on memory, prompted by desire, you will think yourself to be a person — living, feeling, thinking, active, passive, pleased or pained. Question yourself, ask yourself. ‘Is it so?’ ‘Who am l’? ‘What is behind and beyond all this?’ And soon you will see your mistake. And it is in the very nature of a mistake to cease to be, when seen.
Q: The Yoga of living, of life itself, we may call the Natural Yoga (nisarga yoga). It reminds me of the Primal Yoga (adhi yoga), mentioned in the Rig-Veda which was described as the marrying of life with mind.
M: A life lived thoughtfully, in full awareness, is by itself Nisarga Yoga.
Q: What does the marriage of life and mind mean?
M: Living in spontaneous awareness, consciousness of effortless living, being fully interested in one’s life — all this is implied.
Q: Sharada Devi, wife of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, used to scold his disciples for too much effort. She compared them to mangoes on the tree which are being plucked before they are ripe. ‘Why hurry?’ she used to say. ‘Wait till you are fully ripe, mellow and sweet.’
M: How right she was! There are so many who take the dawn for the noon, a momentary experience for full realisation and destroy even the little they gain by excess of pride. Humility and silence are essential for a sadhaka, however advanced. Only a fully ripened jnani can allow himself complete spontaneity.
Q: It seems there are schools of Yoga where the student, after illumination, is obliged to keep silent for 7 or 12 or 15 or even 25 years. Even Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi imposed on himself 20 years of silence before he began to teach.
M: Yes, the inner fruit must ripen. Until then the discipline, the living in awareness, must go on. Gradually the practice becomes more and more subtle, until it becomes altogether formless.
Q: Krishnamurti too speaks of living in awareness.
M: He always aims directly at the ‘ultimate’. Yes, ultimately all Yogas end in your adhi yoga, the marriage of consciousness (the bride) to life (the bridegroom). Consciousness and being (sad-chit) meet in bliss (ananda). For bliss to arise there must be meeting, contact, the assertion of unity in duality.
Q: Buddha too has said that for the attainment of nirvana one must go to living beings. Consciousness needs life to grow.
M: The world itself is contact — the totality of all contacts actualised in consciousness. The spirit touches matter and consciousness results. Such consciousness. when tainted with memory and expectation, becomes bondage. Pure experience does not bind; experience caught between desire and fear is impure and creates karma.
Q: Can there be happiness in unity? Does not all happiness imply necessarily contact, hence duality?
M: There is nothing wrong with duality as long as it does not create conflict. Multiplicity and variety without strife is joy. In pure consciousness there is light. For warmth, contact is needed. Above the unity of being is the union of love. Love is the meaning and purpose of duality.
Q: I am an adopted child. My own father I do not know. My mother died when I was born. My foster father, to please my foster mother, who was childless, adopted me — almost by accident. He
is a simple man — a truck owner and driver. My mother keeps the house. I am 24 years now. For the last two and a half years I am travelling, restless, seeking. I want to live a good life, a holy life. What am I to do?
M: Go home, take charge of your father’s business, look after your parents in their old age. Marry the girl who is waiting for you, be loyal, be simple, be humble. Hide your virtue, live silently. The five senses and the three qualities (gunas) are your eight steps in Yoga. And ‘I am’ is the Great Reminder (mahamantra). You can learn from them all you need to know. Be attentive, enquire ceaselessly. That is all.
Q: If just living one’s life liberates, why are not all liberated?
M: All are being liberated. It is not what you live, but how you live that matters. The idea of enlightenment is of utmost importance. Just to know that there is such possibility, changes one’s entire outlook. It acts like a burning match in a heap of saw dust. All the great teachers did nothing else. A spark of truth can burn up a mountain of lies. The opposite is also true; The sun of truth remains hidden behind the cloud of self-identification with the body.
Q: This spreading the good news of enlightenment seems very important.
M: The very hearing of it, is a promise of enlightenment. The very meeting a Guru is the assurance of liberation. Perfection is life-giving and creative.
Q: Does a realised man ever think: ‘I am realised?’ Is he not astonished when people make much of him? Does he not take himself to be an ordinary human being?
M: Neither ordinary, nor extra-ordinary. Just being aware and affectionate — intensely. He looks at himself without indulging in self-definitions and self-identifications. He does not know himself as anything apart from the world. He is the world. He is completely rid of himself, like a man who is very rich, but continually gives away his riches. He is not rich, for he has nothing; he is not poor, for he gives abundantly. He is just propertyless. Similarly, the realised man is egoless; he has lost the capacity of identifying himself with anything. He is without location, placeless, beyond space and time, beyond the world. Beyond words and thoughts is he.
Q: Well, it is deep mystery to me. I am a simple man.
M: It is you who are deeply complex, mysterious, hard to understand. I am simplicity itself, compared to you: I am what is — without any distinction whatsoever into inner and outer, mine and yours, good and bad. What the world is, I am; what I am the world is.
Q: How does it happen that each man creates his own world?
M: When a number of people are asleep, each dreams his own dream. Only on awakening the question of many different dreams arises and dissolves when they are all seen as dreams, as something imagined.
Q: Even dreams have a foundation.
M: In memory. Even then, what is remembered, is but another dream. The memory of the false cannot but give rise to the false. There is nothing wrong with memory as such. What is false is its content. Remember facts, forget opinions.
Q: What is a fact?
M: What is perceived in pure awareness, unaffected by desire.